The Social Media Challenge – Episode 1 (Jan 2013)
As you may know, I stepped into an expanded role at Harvest Solutions the first of the year. I am now the Social Media Marketing Manager. I am responsible for creating and analyzing Harvest Solutions’ social media strategies while also monitoring, developing and engaging our social communities. For the past 2 years, we outsourced this position where I quietly learned the ropes and picked up some tips. While I wasn’t completely new to the social media arena, it is the first time that it is solely my responsibility. I thought it would be fun (and keep me honest) to write a blog series on what I’ve accomplished each month and lessons learned. I apologize in advance to the length of this article… January was a busy month!
My first goal was to get my feet wet. I didn’t set out to land 15 new customers in the first week via social media. I knew that was completely unrealistic since building a community takes time and effort. With that knowledge in place, my first plan of attack was figuring out what I needed to do RIGHT NOW versus what could wait another 3-4 weeks.
My first step was to better familiarize myself with Twitter. I have a personal Twitter account, but honestly, have not been very active in it. I’m much more a Facebook kind of gal. So off I went into our @HarvestCRM account. I took the advice of many, many (MANY) blog articles - listen first then participate. So I started reading through the tweets, searching for people to follow and finding interesting content that our followers might enjoy. Before I knew it, people were following me back and even retweeting our content. All good signs. I quickly learned a few things about Twitter:
- Watching your follower count go up and down daily is maddening.
- I do not and probably never will understand the folks that follow you even though their Twitter description and recent tweets clearly have NOTHING to do with our business. I especially love the few that have nothing to do with CRM or our related fields and Follow us, then unfollow, then re-follow. It’s like having a 2 year old pulling on my leg trying to get my attention.
- Or how about the profiles that still have the default egg picture and no profile description? Or perhaps just a link to their website? No, I’m not gonna follow you… I have NO idea who you are and what you’re about and if you expect me to go and click the link and use my valuable time trying to figure out who you are, you’re wrong. Just tell me.
- I quickly realized that there is no way to make sense of your Twitter feed without some sort of monitoring tool to bring the “important” stuff to the forefront. There’s no way I could keep up with a Twitter feed that is producing 100 tweets every 15 minutes. I found a tool called Mention that allows you to select keywords to monitor and filter them by channel (Twitter, blog articles, Facebook, etc). It’s pretty handy but even that can be overwhelming at times. I have realized that there is a massive amount of content out there which led us to writing our own blog article on Managing Social Media Data Overload.
- My one wish for Twitter? That it allowed me to log into both the @HarvestCRM and my @clboudreau account and toggle between the two. The Twitter app on my Droid allows me to do this, so why can’t I on my PC? Did I miss something? Yes, I know I could use a tool like HootSuite to manage both accounts, but I’m trying to cut down on the amount of tools I’m using.
Full disclosure… I don’t know much about Pinterest. I don’t have a personal Pinterest account and have done very little in there. However, our previous social media provider created a Harvest Solutions Pinterest profile for us, so here we are.
To be honest, I find Pinterest a little quirky and definitely need to spend some more time investigating what it can offer to a B2B company. Here’s what I learned so far about Pinterest:
- The weirder profile bios/description, the better. I kid you not, I have come across some of the craziest profile bios such as:
I quickly learned that Pinterest could easily become a major distraction. People love to pin pictures of food, travel and crafts. One morning before sending my daughter off to school, I was checking out a new Harvest follower’s boards. She had board for amazing places to travel. I love to travel and my list of places is ever-growing. Before you knew it, my daughter and I were practically drooling over some of these places. I’m pretty certain that my husband will not be pleased to learn that the list just expanded. And I’m absolutely certain that my boss won’t be thrilled if I go down the Pinterest rabbit hole.
In the coming months I need to invest in some time to learn how to make Pinterest relevant to our company and our followers.
- "I have a unique, growing collection of bones." (What??? Should I be worried? Who’s bones are they? And no, I won’t be following your boards)
- “I’m into kinky sports.” (Ah… ok. I can’t imagine what your boards look like. Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?)
- “I chew on straws.” (Seriously… does that help you get friends?)
Tools I used this month
The one thing I quickly learned this month is that there is a HUGE amount of social tools. Each do something slightly different and many overlap with each other. I think my main problem at first was figuring out exactly WHAT I needed.
As I said earlier in this post, I’ve been trialing Mention.net to monitor social channels for our relevant keywords. And that has helped. That free trial is coming to an end shortly and I will see if I can “get by” on their Basic/free version. I also want to see what other tools are at my disposal.
The main tool I used this month was HubSpot. We are a HubSpot Certified Partner and have been using the tool for a few years now. The only problem? I wasn’t using it to its full potential. This new job gave me plenty of good reason to dive into the areas I had previously not used much. And guess what? HubSpot rocks. My one “complaint” about HubSpot is that there is SO much functionality in there (I know, that’s a good complaint to have). Again, for me the goal was – figure out what I needed to do and see if HubSpot could it. Here are the new areas I explored in January:
- HubSpot has a new email editor. I had been happily using VerticalResponse, but I figured that email was included with our HubSpot subscription, I should use what I have. I started off the year promoting a webinar we ran at the end of January which included an email blast. That meant that I had to import my contacts from Salesforce. Other than adjusting to a new way of doing things, it was pretty smooth. And it was super helpful to see my entire list in one place, what pages they visited, if they converted on any one page, etc. AND that information seamlessly sync’d back to Salesforce so my sales reps could see it. Cool.
- I’ve also been using the Social Media tool to schedule my blog posts and look to see which ones have been clicked on, retweeted, etc. That’s handy. And also the other reason I’m not ready to jump into HootSuite… I like having all of the data in one place.
- HubSpot also has a social media bookmarklet. It’s a handy button that sits as a button on my browser toolbar so when I am reading an interesting article that I’d like to share, I simply click on that button and it opens up the HubSpot Social Media scheduler allowing me to publish to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my LinkedIn Groups, etc.
- I also have taken several of the online training classes that HubSpot offers. They are excellent and I strongly recommend them. They are broken down into 13 manageable classes and typically run between 30-60 minutes. The instructors really know their material AND they are constantly monitoring the chat pane to answer questions on the fly. Plus they send you a link to the recorded version and a way to get in touch with them if you have a question. They really do get back to you with an answer (I tested it out with a question I had). It’s a great service.
- Lastly, I have become much more intimate with the reports in HubSpot. Maybe I’m just a marketing geek, but there’s something exciting about tweeting a link or publishing a blog article and seeing the website traffic go up knowing that you drove that spike in traffic.
Our previous social media provider gave us a monthly report. I was also doing some minor reporting on my side, but this month gave me a chance to merge the two reports together and report on what I knew our company would find useful.
Using mostly data from HubSpot and a little from the social channels directly (Facebook and LinkedIn), I created a report. I won’t lie… it took a bit of time. Figuring out what I wanted/needed to report on and then analyze what I was seeing took some time… all of it well-spent. I suspect that next month will be significantly less time now that I have the “template” in place.
I am happy to report that our traffic was up as were our leads from our website for the month of January. Woo hoo!
Goals for next month
This was a crazy month with just trying to get the basics under my belt. In February, I have a few goals to add:
- Do more listening and monitoring on our social channels – especially LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Research other monitoring tools (suggestions are welcome)
- Continue to expand my use of HubSpot – next up: look into Lead Scoring and how it might help our company.
Sorry for the lengthy article! There was a lot going on in January and I wanted to share my experiences. Hopefully in the coming months, I’ll be a bit more streamlined in what I want to accomplish.
Feel free to post any comments and or suggestions. I love hearing about useful tools, tips that made you successful, etc!